Clinton County, New York has taken a stand against child abuse perpetrators in the last 5 years by opening an advocacy center.
The Center has two missions: decrease trauma to children affected by abuse and increase prosecution.
It was created in 2009 and is a branch of the District Attorney's Office.
“The CAC was created in response to a need that we saw in our separate disciplines for a coordinated effort for our fight to keep children safe and bring their abusers to justice,” said Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie. “Together we set out to make a difference and I believe we have, 1 child at a time."
Andrew Wylie and his District Attorney's Office held a breakfast Wednesday morning. The goal was to commemorate the efforts of the agencies involved.
“They don't have a first line of defense, as we would be for our children,” said Capt. Robert LaFountain with the New York State Police to the crowd. “You folks out there are in fact, the first line of defense for many of these kids."
The Clinton County Child Advocacy Center handled 168 cases last year. Since its inception in 2009, that number has continued to go up every year.
Center Director Richelle Gregory says that's not because there are more children being sexually or physically abused, but rather, the system is working.
“We're getting better at identifying and pulling the cases in,” said Gregory. “The system has had a chance to work so we're able to pull those kids in."
The Center itself provides a child-friendly, centralized place to question kids, which benefits not only the children, but the case holding up in court.
“We minimize the number of people who are questioning a child. We don't want to intimidate the child, we don't want to influence their disclosure in any way,” said Gregory.
The Center is the only one of its kind in the North Country.
When the Center opened 5 years ago, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys, nationally, were said to be sexually abused by age 18.
That number has dropped to 1 in 10.